Did you know that halitophobia is the fear of having a bad breath? Of course you don’t, I would be concerned if you did. It’s absurd enough that we came up with a name for it in the first place. Being worried about your breath, sure: buy yourself some chewing gum and get over it. But halitophobia is an extreme fear of having a bad breath when you know damn well that your breath is just fine. Are you kidding me?! You can only brush your teeth so fucking much right? Nope, apparently halitophobiacs are so delusional about the state of their mouth that they refuse to inhale or exhale in the presence of other people. Bizarre… like any phobia is I guess. We suffer from so many that we even lost count.  

For instance, there are people who have ombrophobia, which is the fear of rain. Others suffer from cryophobia, the fear of cold, and yet others from achluophobia, the fear of darkness. Truth is, I don’t like these things myself either, particularly when I’m on holiday. But to go turn it into a phobia? That’s just being overdramatic. There is even a scientific name for the fear of chickens (alektrophobia), the fear of computers (cyberphobia), and the fear of driving cars (amaxophobia). My goodness. Listen: if you don’t like chickens, don’t go to a farm. If you don’t like computers, read a bloody book. And if you don’t wanna drive a car, then fucking don’t!!

 Apparently phobias aren’t that simple. It’s an irrational state of mind, a brain disorder if you will. There is no point in reasoning with these people. If your best friend has an extreme fear of tiles (plakidiophobia), you can’t simply solve it by getting wooden flooring. And if your girlfriend suffers from pogonophobia (the fear of beards), it goes beyond shaving. Wooden floors and clean cut chins aside: how are you gonna take them out for dinner? Just imagine the amount of tiles and hairy men on the way to the restaurant. And then there is Christmas. Your girlfriend is gonna have a proper panic attack when Santa rocks up, if your friend even allows him past the kitchen floor.  

People with phobias have fear take over their life. So let’s say you have an extreme fear of houses (domatophobia), you would have to live out on the street. And if you suffer from ephebiphobia (the fear of teenagers), you can never have kids or abandon them at the age of twelve. And people with the fear of cooking (mageirocophia) have no choice but to eat crackers or order takeout. If you are really unlucky you suffer from microphobia (the fear of small things) or megalophobia (the fear of large things). That truly makes picking a bed partner very tricky. 

Even phobophobia is a real thing: the fear of having extreme fears. These people don’t have a phobia, but are so afraid of getting one that they avoid any trigger in life. For instance, when you aren’t actually afraid of spiders, but avoid them because you are afraid of becoming afraid of them in the future. It’s like having fomophobia: the fear of getting fomo (which is the fear of missing out) even though you are totally fine with being alone. Fomophobiacs can’t go to a party, in fear they will like it so much that they’ll want to go to áll parties. And they only pick shitty friends, to avoid getting the uncontrollable desire to hang out with their friends áll the time. Aaargh! 

What the hell happened to us that we have these phobias in the first place? An exaggerated fear of snakes (ophidiophobia) or thunder (astrapophobia) makes some historic sense at least, from the time we were primitive humanoids surviving out in the bush and all. Let’s say we are imprinted with these fears, and that our natural response got blown out of proportion in a few, unlucky people. A rare mutation; an unfortunate malfunction of the brain. But then what about nomophobia (the fear of cell phones) and globophobia (the fear of balloons). We didn’t even háve these things back in the Stone Age! Where is the logic people?!

No, we must be respectful. It can’t be easy for them. But still, where does this nonsense come from? Scientists can’t quite figure it out. Because they have to start somewhere, they divided phobias into three categories. The first being the ‘specific phobia’: an irrational fear of something that doesn’t factually (but could actually) pose a risk. For example, fearing snakes while sitting behind your desk on the 15th floor, downtown Manhattan. The second category is the ‘social phobia’, which is purely mental. Like having extreme self-loathing when you are Brad bloody Pitt. The third one, ‘agoraphobia’, relates to something tangible. For instance, when you have a cat purring in your lap while suffering from ailurophobia (the fear of cute, harmless, fluffy cats). 

But all categories aside, scientists still struggle to enlighten us with triggers, trends or explanations. Phobias make so little sense that they are like a book unwritten. On the positive side, you don’t need a degree to have a saying about them. Pretty much anyone can claim to have a phobia or come up with a new one. Inventing a phobia isn’t as easy as it sounds though, because most fears have been labelled already. But a bit of creativity can get you quite far. For instance: I’m Dutch, and we are known to be extremely nice and loveable. So being afraid of Dutch people doesn’t make any logical sense. You would have to be pretty crazy to… BAM! That’s a phobia right there.  

Before I can label it, I must do some background research. And amazingly so, Dutchphobia has been claimed: defined as ‘the fear of the Dutch and Dutch culture’ without further detail. It might be the level of lovability that intimidates people, but who am I to say... I must come up with my own phobia. So, for instance: I have remarkably chubby toes. The fear of toes has been claimed already (podophobia), but what about chubby toes specifically? Or chubby Dútch toes? HA! Internet ain’t got nothing on that. I’m gonna call it dutchdophobia. Good thing I don’t have it myself, I wouldn’t be able to walk. And if I ever get a boyfriend with dutchdophobia I would simply have to cover my feet at all times. Even in summer, no flipflops for me. I could also take my shirt off to distract him. But dutchdophobia is the real deal, which means I would have to keep my shoes on and shirt off at all times… it might take some adjusting, but it’s not impossible. See, phobias are never easy, but there is always a creative way to live with them.